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Educational campaign aims to improve video games' public image
Educational campaign aims to improve video games' public image
March 11, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi




"Just because you have [the Supreme Court decision] on your side doesn't mean you have public opinion on your side."

That (paraphrased) warning came from vice president Joe Biden when he spoke to representatives of the video game industry early this year, following some heat in the media aimed at games following the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in December. It's not, he said, that video games have a content problem, it's that they have a public perception problem. Research may show the educated that there is no correlation between real life violence and video game violence, but unless voters are aware of this, they're likely to continue to vilify game creators.

Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello recently commented that his company plans to be "a part of that solution," and now the Entertainment Software Assotiation has joined the fight to fix our image too. The industry representative group announced Monday that it is launching a new national public education campaign to increase awareness for the Entertainment Software Rating Board's age ratings for games.

Specifically, the association says it will create and promote a new series of public service announcements, get ESRB materials more prominently displayed in stores, work with non-profits to encourage the use of "educational and pro-social purposes" through games, and try to get ESRB ratings in places they don't currently appear, such as in smartphone and social games.

More information here.


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Comments


E Zachary Knight
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You really have to wonder if this campaign will successful in educating the "old, childless, non-gamers" who need it. It really isn't needed for anyone else.

Chris Hendricks
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You don't think there are plenty of parents who need this? Too many still don't even know that there's a video game rating system.

E Zachary Knight
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Chris,

I don't see how any parent who buys games could be completely ignorant of the ratings. However, I do understand that there are parents who don't care about the ratings. Big difference though.

The ignorant can be taught but those who don't care won't care even if they see these campaigns.

Scott Soto
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Right now old, childless non-gamers only have the news telling them that since someone does something terrible & plays video games it's clearly the fault of the video games.

Logic & reason go out the window when there's a chance to put a bugbear in the room to scare people into associating blame & demonizing something. It's been a problem ever since that rash of people's heads being jumped on in 1985 & the recent epidemic of walkouts as thousands quit their jobs to become rural farmers.

Dane Warnick
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I'm confused because in a fair number of GameStops' I've seen the ESRB's ratings system in front of the cash registers, and i going to guess that even in the other places people buy games Target, Wal-Mart, BestBuy, don't these stores like GameStop have the rating's posted in plain open viewing, that being said how if that is in place how could it be more prominent, unless there was some in your face mammoth sized poster in the area?

Frank Cifaldi
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Yeah, but I think it's obvious that just having something you can easily ignore among all the other garbage at the register is obviously not working. Some simple ideas off the top of my head:

- Educating store managers more on making sure parents understand

- Including flyers in used games

- Finding a way to incentivize consumers to learn more...coupons for taking a questionnaire, maybe?

- Traditional PR: Get the ESRB and/or the ECA on like, the Today Show

- Pushing to get PSA ads into the publications that parents read

Frank Cifaldi
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I think the first point could be really powerful. In general, people who work for specialty shops like GameStop are passionate about video games. If we educate them on what's at stake if we don't turn around our image problem, they'll proudly join the cause and champion consumer education.

E Zachary Knight
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Frank,

I think it is a good idea, however, how does educating the managers of specialty game shops help educate the "old, childless, people who don't play games"? They are typically the ones who are are calling for legislation and "studies".

Kujel Selsuru
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I wittnessed the image problem with our industry just today while in the grocery store with my wife, this young woman behind the deli counter noticed my NES belt buckle (a gift from my wife btw) and she made a remark about the NES was when video games were fun and now all they are is violence and gore.

We all know that there is more to video games then that but for "outsiders" all they see are these violent bloody shooters and the ads for them. They don't see the MineCrafts or the Flows and think all video games are is violence and blood.

I don't know if this campaign will work or not but I hope it will, in the end though time will tell.

Frank Cifaldi
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As a single person in the dating pool I have this conversation a lot more often than I care to once I inevitably talk about my job. In my experience this isn't just an "old people" problem, my anecdotal evidence suggests that your average late 20s to early 30s person thinks that video games are significantly more violent and less accessible now than they were when we were kids.

Kujel Selsuru
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So true, this girl was probably in her early 30 and clearly played when she was younger but now it looks to her like all we are about is violence and gore sadly. The remark about my belt buckle and how games used to be fun really struck me. Then I drop by Gamasutra and you posted a piece about our image problem and the ESA's proposed plan to fix it surprising timing to say the least.

Gary Riccio
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Wasserman Schultz said: I commend the video game industry for recognizing the importance of educating and engaging parents about the ratings and other resources and for leading a national program that will ensure the decision-making power remains where it should be with parents. [http://tinyurl.com/ca3e3tw]

Engagement is the key concept here. The current ratings address depictions of violence, not violent behavior, and they don't differentiate between prosocial and antisocial aggressiveness. Let's change the conversation and get into in the details of the interpersonal experience in videogames.

See also http://tinyurl.com/asg5bs5
http://transmedia-frontiers.posterous.com/tag/violence
http://www.sofstudios.com/psyop]


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